I’ve never NOT been a part of the church. While my life as a Christian has been marked by nuanced movements in both forward and wayward directions from God, I have never had a time in my life that I ever believed that I was anything but a child of God bound to God through the life-giving gift of Jesus Christ. As I embark upon the new venture in the blogosphere, I must then begin with what is foundational for my life and thought, and that foundations nothing short of grace.
I know that grace excites the Wesleyan theologs out there who instantly think of such words as prevenient, justifying and sanctifying, but I am at that place where my understanding of grace is so much more (perhaps really “so much less”) than delving into the complexities of Wesleyan doctrine. After having spent my life working through the details of the various ways of talking about grace and how grace works in our lives, I have come full circle back to an affirmation that I learned as a child: God and God alone!
God and God alone. It is the primary theme of Jesus as he talks to his disciples about lilies in fields and the faith of children. It is what compels him to go where he would otherwise not go and do what he would otherwise not do. His focus is always on God, and God alone.
Grace means that I am wrapped up in nothing more than God and God alone and given the gift of coping … no, more than coping … RISING (another good biblical word) above the stresses and strains of the toils of life. I have a card given to me by a friend that reads: “Faith is accepting the truth that, despite the wreckage I’ve caused and grieved over, God, who has wiped the slate clean, delights in me!”. No matter what I face … no matter what I’ve done … God delights in me! And that is the definition of grace.
Many years ago, as I began in ministry, I was searching for that “perfect” closing salutation for my written correspondence because every minister had to have one! As I searched and searched and tried on different salutations like I would try on suits looking for the one perfect one that looked best on me. I kept coming back to the simple word “grace.”. Then one day, almost by accident, I looped the J in my name around the word grace, and suddenly I knew what I was looking at. Grace was at the heart of the matter. Grace was what filled me up. My life was wrapped up in grace … God and God alone.
So as the journey continues and I continue to encounter the complexities of church life and ministry with the people of God, I am reminded again of the simple foundation of a simple ministry. The grace to know only God and God alone!